(Bio excerpted from: How Yassir Chadly Came to Terms With Music and Islam on KQED.org)
Besides being a professional musician, Yassir Chadly is an imam, or spiritual leader, of Masjid-Al Iman, a Sufi-oriented mosque in Oakland that welcomes non-Muslims to its services. Some adherents of orthodox Islam consider all music heretical. Chadly studied under the Naqshbandi, a Sufi order that traces its origins to the Muslim prophet Muhammad, and Chadly’s life changed several decades ago when Naqshbandi leaders told him that music of the spirit is allowed, though not music that Chadly says has its origins “below the bellybutton.”
When he’s not performing or functioning as a religious leader or teaching introduction to Sufism at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union, Chadly is a swim instructor in Berkeley; during his youth in Morocco, he made the Moroccan national swim team, and is still adept in aquatics. Having his hands in different areas gives Chadly perspective on reaching different audiences. He immigrated to California in 1977, and his first job was working at a San Francisco restaurant called Agadir, on Polk Street. Nearby was the Keystone Corner, a notable jazz club.